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A title is a legal document that signifies ownership in a piece of property. When you buy or sell a vehicle, a title transfer must take place to keep track of who presently owns the vehicle. These transfers are processed at Motor Vehicle offices located throughout the state. After taking ownership of a vehicle, you have 30 days to complete the transfer. However, it's not wise to wait nearly that long.
Some common reasons for title transfers include:
- Buying a vehicle
- Selling a vehicle
- Paying off a loan
- Transferring a vehicle to a family member
- Giving a vehicle to an individual
- Donating a vehicle to charity
- Inheriting a vehicle
- Making name corrections
The process of buying a used vehicle is one that often causes both the seller and prospective buyers to feel some apprehension. If you're selling a vehicle, obtaining a vehicle history report is an excellent to reduce the anxiety level of prospective buyers, as it allows them to look into the vehicle's past. By doing so, you may hasten the sales process.
Once you've sold the vehicle, you'll transfer the title by:
- Locating the title.
- Filling in the applicable sections (such as price and date).
- Completing the odometer section (if the vehicle is less than 10 years old).
- Completing a Damage/Salvage Disclosure Statement (Form SFN18609) (if the vehicle is less than 9 years old).
- Signing the title.
- Removing the vehicle's license plates.
- Handing the title to the buyer, who will complete the process by following the instructions provided below.
Although you're not required to complete a bill of sale, doing so provides an extra layer of legal protection and documentation for you.
In these situations, the dealer should have the title transaction for you. If the dealer fails to do so, contact the dealer directly, or call the Department of Transportation (NDDOT) at (701) 328-2725 for guidance.
Next to buying a home, buying a vehicle―new or used― will likely be your second biggest purchase. So, you'll obviously want to proceed with caution in this endeavor. Doing an online search for pre-owned vehicles is a great way to gain some of the type information you'll need to make a smart purchase. Online searches are also useful in landing the best financing and insurance deals.
If you're really being prudent in your approach, though, you should consider obtaining a vehicle history report before agreeing to a deal, as these reports offer valuable information about a vehicle's background.
Once you've done your homework and finalized the deal, you'll title your vehicle by:
- Getting the title from the seller (be sure to do this).
- Verifying that the seller properly completed the applicable sections (see above section).
- Confirming that the seller signed and dated the title.
- Filling in the buyer section on the title.
- Signing and dating the title.
- Receiving the Damage/Salvage Disclosure Statement (Form SFN19609) from the seller (if the vehicle is less than nine years old).
- Completing the Application for Certificate of Title & Registration of a Vehicle (Form SFN2872).
- Visiting a Motor Vehicle office.
- Paying the 5% tax on the purchase price.
- Paying the $5 title transfer fee.
While at the office, you can register the vehicle at the same time.
After you pay off your loan, the lienholder should automatically release you from the loan. While you're not required to do so, if you want a clear title (meaning one without any lien information), send your released title and payment for the $5 fee to:
- 608 East Boulevard Ave.
- Bismarck, ND 58505-0700
For the purposes of this section, "family" refers only to:
When a vehicle's ownership is transferred among these family members, and if the vehicle was given away (meaning no money was involved), the recipient doesn't have to pay the excise tax. However, if money was involved, the title transfer process is the same as those between non-family members:
- Seller must locate the title.
- Seller must complete the applicable sections (such as price and date).
- Seller must fill in the odometer section (if the vehicle is less than 10 years old).
- Seller must complete a Damage/Salvage Disclosure Statement (Form SFN18609) (if the vehicle is less than nine years old) and give it to the buyer.
- Seller must sign the title.
- Seller should remove the vehicle's license plates.
- Buyer must obtain the title from the seller.
- Buyer should check that the seller properly completed the applicable sections.
- Buyer should verify that the seller signed and dated the title.
- Buyer must complete the buyer section on the title.
- Buyer must sign and date the title.
- Buyer must complete the Application for Certificate of Title & Registration of a Vehicle (SFN2872).
- Buyer must go to a Motor Vehicle office.
- Buyer must pay the $5 title transfer fee.
The buyer can register the vehicle while at the office.
While giving a vehicle to a charity may be a thoughtful move, be sure to know what you're doing before proceeding, as this type of donation is surprisingly complex. Reading our car donation article is a good place to start, but you might also need the help of a tax attorney in some situations.
These situations are often complicated to deal with, and different rules apply according to the exact scenario. In some cases, you might want to consult a probate attorney for direction, or at least contact NDDOT for instructions on how to transfer a vehicle title in your circumstance.
But, here's how to handle the situation of if you're inheriting a vehicle that was titled in the deceased's name only:
- Obtain a certified copy of the personal representative papers.
- Get the title, and fill in the appropriate sections.
- Complete the Application for Certificate of Title & Registration of a Vehicle (Form SFN2872).
- Visit a Motor Vehicle office.
- Pay the $5 title transfer fee.
You can register the vehicle while at the office. And, don't forget about your insurance needs. See our Insurance Center for possible providers.
Changing a Name
To change a name on a title:
- Locate the title.
- Both the current title owner and the person whose name is being changed (if it's not the same person) need to complete the applicable sections on the back of the title and sign their names.
- Bring the title to a Motor Vehicle office.
- Pay the $5 fee.
Deleting a Name
To remove a name from a title:
- Locate the title.
- The person whose name is staying on the title should sign the space under "buyer" and complete the other applicable buyer information.
- The person whose name is being removed should sign as "seller," and fill in the other applicable seller information.
- Both parties should go to a Motor Vehicle office to complete the transaction.
- The $5 fee must be paid.
Adding a Name
To add your name to a title:
Other Topics in This Section
- Locate the title.
- The person whose name is on the title should sign the space under "seller" and list the other applicable seller information.
- You should sign your name as the "buyer," and fill in the applicable buyer information.
- You and the current title holder should go to a Motor Vehicle office to complete the transaction.
- The $5 fee must be paid.
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- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
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